Friday, August 31, 2007

Tapping Creativity in Language

When we speak of tapping creativity, we may assume that it means creativity of ideas. In many cases, this is true; but creativity is so much more. Sometimes it can be a creativity of concept, like the work of Gabrial Garcia Marquez. Sometimes it can be a creativity of technique, like the work of James Joyce or Jack Kerouac. Or sometimes it is in the creativity of language, like the work of Abbot and Costello.

Yes. You read that correctly.

Abbot and Costello's "Who's on First" routine is one of the most popular in comedy skits in American history, because it plays on what we presume to know about language. Once you can change the rules of language, creativity begins.

I've included the full skit here. Many of you have seen excerpts of this routine. Please take a few minutes to view it in its entirety. It is brilliant. I hope it sparks something creative in you.


I've been "out of the office" for a few days. I've been dealing with some family issues and trying to get my stuff migrated over to this fancy shmancy new laptop I got for my 32nd birthday. In the meantime, however, some people have been very kind in supporting my work. I would like to take a minute to give them some thanks and let all of you know about some really cool blogs out there. For tapping creativity, learning about new people and new topics is essential. Here are some great places to start.

Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker
Patricia Singleton says her blog is about spirituality. I like to also think it is about strength. The strength is takes to write about difficult topics, look life in the eye, and grow stronger every day. Her blog gives me chills sometimes and reminds me what the human spirit is capable of when we refuse to back down from challenges.

Rebecca Thomas Designs
Rebecca is the epitome of creativity. Her site covers a wide selection of creative pursuits, including writing, design, jewelry, and education. A core staple of tapping creativity is keeping an interest in different art forms. And she's knows what she's talking about in each category. (Rebecca, if you read this, I owe you a copy of Tapping Creativity. You can contact me at I look forward to your e-mail.)

This blog is from Malaysia. I love it because it is a great example of a personal blog that offers something more than journaling. Learning is a staple of tapping creativity. NAZMIESKI offers tech bits, history on Malaysia, and more. I have a general affinity for all things Asian. And the passion in his writing is something every writer should have. Plus, he offers lots of good information about blogging. And I know all of you are probably bloggers.

Getting Off My Ass
Funny Name. Great Blog. This blog revolves a lot around physical activity. For anything you want to pursue, however, the ability to get off your ass is the first step toward results. Why should you read it? Because it is a blog of action and inspiration. It's about struggles and successes. Those are the things that writers need more often than not.

Jim Moon
Jim is from my home state of Michigan. He is a better writer than I am. You know why? Because he writes more often than I do, and he covers more territory. Often tapping creativity is a numbers game. The more you write, the better the odds of stumbling upon something good. Jim's blog is good. Go read it. Subscribe to it. I do.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog and subscribe. It means a lot. I hope I'm giving you something worth coming back to.

(Look, I got all verklempt and finished a sentence with a preposition.)

More good stuff coming soon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Still Life As Meatloaf :: A Short Story

For close to two months, I've been offering bits of advice about writing. One thing I tend to preach often is the benefit of reading stuff you might normally not read. So, at the risk of using this blog as an ego-stroker, I'll give you something new to read right here. It's a short story of mine. Hopefully, it'll spark something in your own writing.

Still Life as Meatloaf

She stands by the dryer folding laundry. They were supposed to be home an hour and a half ago. Her husband and their four-year-old daughter had taken his older kids back to their mother’s house. She wonders if they were in an accident, then folds the same towel for the third time.

She’d seen an accident once. It was in June a few years back. Eighty-nine degrees. Armpit humid. In five-o-clock rush hour, a red ragtop Camero touched the middle embankment, overcorrected, and started flipping. The driver was flung from the car and bounced along the concrete, leaving purple slugs of headmeat strung along the expressway. He was dead before the car finally came to a stop. Upside down. Power wheel still spinning.

She hopes that if they were in an accident, it would be like that—fast, if not magnificent.

She’s never planned a funeral before. I wouldn’t even know where to bury them, much less how. What’s the turnaround time on the life insurance, she wonders. She would have to ask his parents what to do. She folds the same towel for the fourth time.

She can see the minivan, crushed like a tuna fish can, with blood on the steering wheel and their daughter’s lifeless little body suspended upside down, still strapped in the booster seat, her broken neck leaving her head limp and her ponytails reaching for the ground.

She grabs the phone and calls again, pushing the numbers harder than the last time she called. What am I going to do, she thinks as she gets his voice mail. She doesn’t leave a message.

Where would I go, she thinks. Her eyes get wet, get swollen. I can’t stay here, I don’t even like it here. I only came here because he wanted to. I’d have to sell the house and go somewhere—somewhere far away. She sets the phone down and goes back to folding the towels. I’d have to start over with nothing. I’d have to go back to school for something, get a degree, get a job. The life insurance could only go so far.

She walks into the kitchen and begins deliberately preparing dinner for three, grabbing some potatoes from under the counter and tossing them into the sink. She pulls a knife from the drawer and begins cubing the potatoes for boiling.

I always wanted to teach. Maybe that’s what I could do. Maybe I could go back and get my certification and teach. It’s what I was going to do anyway. Yeah, something like fourth grade would be good for me. Dammit, when are they going to get here?

In one clean motion, she slices her left index finger lengthwise, opening the skin and releasing a long, clean rush of blood. It comes fast and dark. She turns on the sink and puts her hands under the tap, cleaning and examining the cut. She wraps some paper towels around it and thinks it will need stitches.

The refrigerator is virgin white and she tries not to get blood on it as she pulls out the ground chuck, eggs, and ketchup. From the cupboard she gets the breadcrumbs. With all of the ingredients in the mixing bowl, she tries to figure how to mix up this mess by herself.

She removes the bloodied paper towels.

The cut bleeds more as a thin flap of skin hangs down, almost refusing to be a part of the finger any longer. She stares at the finger, wounded and bleeding, but still functional. Then she slips both hands into the mixing bowl, squishing the soon-to-be meatloaf between all of her fingers. She squeezes hard and watches the blob slip from her hands as the ingredients bind together, becoming one. The breadcrumbs cling to her wound, forming a dark pink paste that she rubs back into the bowl with her other index finger, letting it sit on top of the mashed up meatpile.

Finished, she rinses her hands in the sink again and rewraps the finger. One-handing the pile into the loaf pan is remarkably easy. To the oven it goes.

It is their dinner. Their sustenance.

She hears the front door open. It is her husband and daughter. Her little girl runs to her to be picked up. She does so, wincing.

“What happened to your finger,” he asks.

“I just cut it making dinner. Where were you?”

“We got stuck in traffic, some chemical truck on its side. They routed all four lanes over to the left. It took forever.”

“Why didn’t you call? I was worried sick.”

“The battery died on the cell, and the charger is in your car. I’m sorry you were worried.”

“Forget about it,” she says and kisses her daughter on the cheek before setting her down.

“What’s for dinner, muhmuh?”


“Yummy, my favorite.”

“Well it won’t be ready for a little while so you can go play until then.”

“Okay.” And she scampers off.

He steps up to her and hugs her. She pulls him so close, almost violently; she can feel the pressure rush to her finger. The paper towel becomes soaked.

“Whoa,” he says. “What’s that all about?”

Her eyes fill up. “I’m just really glad to see you.”

“Well I’m really glad to see you, too. I gotta admit, though, I don’t like the look of that finger.”

“It’ll be okay,” she says. “You know I’m a quick healer.”

“If you say so.”

She tosses him a potato.

“Why don’t you make yourself useful and help me cut up these potatoes.”

He grins.


“You got it, baby.”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reaching Deeper

I used to be a writing teacher. I enjoyed it because writing encapsulated so many other aspects of life. I still feel that teaching is one of the most noble professions, especially when it comes to tapping creativity. Taylor Mali says it better than I ever could.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hyper Balladeers

When I used to teach writing to college freshmen, I naively believed that I could introduce a room full of 18-year-olds to poets like John Donne and Christopher Marlowe and expect them to run with it. After 23 blank stares, I knew it was time to switch gears...and fast.

Nothing a few hundred years and some music couldn't take care of.

When it comes to tapping creativity, it always helps to have creative artistic influences. In a pinch, I know I can always turn to Bjork. She's pretty widely know for challenging conventions. When it comes to lyric writing, however, her use of imagery and narration are outstanding. As evidenced in her song, Hyper Ballad.

Hyper Ballad
We live on a mountain
Right at the top
There's a beautiful view
From the top of the mountain
Every morning I walk towards the edge
And throw little things off like:
Car parts, bottles and cutlery
or whatever I find lying around

It's become a habit
A way
To start the day

I go through this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you

It's real early morning
No-one is awake
I'm back at my cliff
Still throwing things off
I listen to the sounds they make
On their way down
I follow with my eyes 'til they crash
Imagine what my body would sound like
Slamming against those rocks

And when it lands
Will my eyes
Be closed or open?

I'll go through all this
Before you wake up
So I can feel happier
To be safe up here with you

Lyrically, there is a lot going on. Images of mountaintops, "car parts, bottles and cutlery", and so on. The imagery is very vivid. The lyrics also tell an emotional tale, perhaps one of insecurity, frustration, anger, or dependency. It seems that she gives us enough to work with, but not enough to draw distinct conclusions. Or does she?

Watch the video again. Read the words. What do you think it all means?

Why don't you write the story you perceive from this song?

It's one more way to tap your creativity.

Related Posts
Write Like The Beatles
Rutbusters: Busting Through Creative Block

Monday, August 20, 2007

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Everybody from Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz to The Clash has been put in that position where they are forced to ask: Should I stay or should I go? As a writer, you should be keenly aware of the power in these situations.

Sure, there is something to be said for the freedom in abstract or stream of conscious writing, but if you want readers to have an emotional investment in your characters, you need to put your characters in situations that require them to make difficult decisions. In many cases, the final decision will change the course of that character's life long after we have closed the final chapter.

Does Dorothy stay in Oz with her new friends or does she return to the Kansas that she was so eager to leave? In Sophie's Choice, Sophie cannot save both of her children, so she has to choose one. That decision stays with her forever. And Catch 22 has even become a common part of the everyday vernacular. If you are stuck in a story, think about aiming your character toward a difficult decision.

This works well for journalism as well. But first, a word from The Clash.

Man, I love those guys.

Anyway, now that the juices are flowing again, I was talking about how this notion a character having to make a decision works in journalism. Too often journalism gets confused with newspaper writing. They are not the same. Journalism is more expansive and tells a story. Like fiction, good journalism works best when there is a sympathetic character with whom readers can identify. As this person(s) face challenges, readers become more involved as well. This is what moves us in journalism.

And since the matters are based in reality can provide a challenge, as the right details, trials, tribulations, decisions, and outcomes need to be presented with attention to truth, negating a certain degree of creative freedom, but promoting another aspect of creativity that comes from working withing barriers.

Related Posts
Getting From Here to There
Tapping Creativity by Embracing Barriers

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Make a Difference. Write. Now.

Please stay with me on this one, because it is going to be difficult.

My grandmother is dying of cancer.

After my last post on Monday, I visited some other blogs to which I subscribe. After reading Jim Moon's inspirational post, titled Sieze the Day, I decided to call my grandmother. She is closer to me than my mother is, and I hadn't spoken with her in months.

When I called, my uncle told me she had been taken to the hospital earlier that day after she collapsed. A CAT scan revealed cancer in her lungs and at the base of her spine.

And she is dying.

When I wanted to be the third baseman for the Detroit Tigers, she bought me my first mitt and bat. Then, every night that summer, she pitched to me. She took me to my first Tigers game in that magical 1984 season.

After a couple years of playing a loaner guitar, she bought me my own. I still play it. When I told her I wanted to be a rock star, she bought me my first multi-track recorder so I could cut a demo. I've been a musician for 20 years now.

When I told her I wanted to race mountain bikes in the 2000 Summer Olympics, she went with me to get some better aftermarket parts for my bike. I've been an avid biker for 12 years.

Everybody should have someone who so completely supports their ambitions, no matter how unrealistic. While I never accomplished those goals above, baseball, music, and biking are still passions of mine.

You should know more.

When I was 14, I noticed three little scars on my mother's heel. I asked her what they were. She told me they were from a blood transfusion at birth. My grandmother and grandfather (whom I never met) had incompatible blood types. While they had three children, they lost four--all at birth.

The more I learned about my grandmother, the more she became my role model. She was born during the depression. She married young to an alcoholic husband who routinely beat her and the children. He couldn't keep a job. So she worked 60-hour weeks to support the family. This was in the '50s and '60s. When women's libbers were burning their bras and picketing for equal rights, she was behind a soldering iron, putting together circuit boards for early computers. Some days, it was dark when she went in to work. It was dark when she left.

She did it because she had to. She did it because her love for her family was greater than the challenge of the work.

In the '60s, she divorced my grandfather, which was still a very taboo thing to do at that time. She knew she faced ridicule. She knew it might make her life even more difficult. But she did it because she had to do it.

Most of her life was spent between a rock and a hard place. And I never, ever, ever heard her once complain about how difficult her life was. And because she worked so hard, my mother's life was better. And so is mine.

When I graduated from grad school with my 4.0 average, she sent me short letter telling me how proud she was of me. Of the thousands and thousands of pages I had to read in college, that degree didn't make me feel as accomplished as her short letter did.

She is my hero. She is my role model. And she is dying of cancer.

Because of her, I never get down when times get tough. Because of her, I never shy away from a challenge, no matter how difficult. Because of her, I'm a better father to my daughter. And because of her, I know that one person can change the world for the better, even if it has to be done one person at a time.

Where am I going with this? And why should you care?

This is why.

Whether you have a natural gift for words or you've toiled for endless hours to get good at writing, you have the skills you need to make a difference in the world.

There are hundreds of charities that need help. If you can write, you can volunteer your skills to help write grants, craft informative brochures, create websites to promote awareness. You can help good causes in your own neighborhood make a difference in your own backyard.

have the ability to help put new textbooks in schools.
You have the ability to help feed the poor your community.
You have the ability to help Vietnam veterans get the medical attention they require.
You have the ability to help ensure that someone else's hero and role model doesn't die from one of the most common diseases on the planet.

If you can write, you can make a difference.

I'm asking you in this post, to find a charity that you feel you can really get behind, and contact them, offering your services for free.

Right here.
Write now.

Thank you for reading.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fearless Writing :: Part III

This third segment in an unplanned series on fearless writing addresses the yin to fear's yang: hope. Often we think hope as that force that gives us strength. On the contrary, hope tends to be the force that gives rise to expectations. Those expectations, or rather the consequences of not fulfilling those hopeful expectations are where the seeds of fear are sewn.

In the Tibetan language, the word for for hope is rewa; the word for fear is dokpa. More often, however, the term re-dok is used, as it is the linguistic combination of the two. For, as long as there is one, the other will also be present. Fear stems from hope unfulfilled. Hope stems from the belief that something else can suppress fear.

When Dante wrote "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here," it was before the gates of Hell. I believe that a way to break the cycle of re-dok is to simply abandon hope. Right now, you are probably wondering what the heck any of this has to do with writing or creativity.

Next time you sit to write, abandon hope. It's hope that robs the present moment from us. It's hope that puts emphasis on how things could be in the ideal situation. Well, not to be a wet blanket, but life is just not ideal. But you knew that a long time ago. When you abandon hope and all of its expectations, however, you also abandon fear. In doing so, you reclaim the present. You regain your moment in front of the screen as you cull thoughts from the universe and create something where nothing existed before. You regain the right to fail without consequence. And you regain the right soar without reservation. You regain the creativity that hope too often takes away...when we let it.

This doesn't just go for writing. I would consider it a life lesson I've picked up along the way. Abandon hope. Live life in the present as much as possible, and immerse yourself in the experience of now. I can't promise it will make your writing better, but I think that you'll find the writing comes a little more easily each time.

Related Posts
Fearless Writing
Fearless Writing Part II

Saturday, August 11, 2007

6 Steps to Tapping Creativity Right Now

Sometimes finding ways to tap creativity can be a bit involved. Hey, this creativity thing doesn't always come so easily. Today, we're going to look at six quick steps to help you get past creative block and get the ideas rolling right away.

1. Go for a walk. Try someplace familiar, like your own neighborhood. Take a look around and see if you notice anything you hadn't seen before.

2. Go to the library and get a short book you know nothing about. Sometimes reading new writers is enough to spark new ideas.

3. Give Google and Yahoo a break. Try using alternative search engines for a while, such as Ask, Hakia, or Mahalo. They return information in different ways.

4. Write a poem. Retell one of your other works in a series of haikus.

6. Read some local news stories, then journal about what they mean to you personally. I do journal, right?

These don't have to be one-time fixes either. For instance, every trip I take to the library, I bring back a short book for new writer voices. I walk every day during my lunch hour and look for different things. I have reams of bad poetry lying around; I also have some good short stories that started as bad poems. And I do all of my journaling by hand.

Remember, creativity can be a lifestyle, not just a character trait.

Why Do You Write Contest Winners

I promised to offer free copies of my ebook, Tapping Creativity, to the top five answers I liked the most in the Why Do You Write contest. To be honest, I really thought all of the answers were good and representative of different motivations for writing.


I'll be sending a free copy to all of the people who entered.

Please drop me an email at to let me know your e-mail address, your name, and which post number was yours, and I'll get a copy right out to you!

I would also like to offer a sincere thanks to all who participated. And I hope you get something you can use from the book as well.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Improve Your Writing with One Sentence a Day

With a lack of time being an big obstacle many writers face, having some tips from my book, Tapping Creativity that will let you get something productive from very little time can be helpful.

When I'm pinched for time, I use a one-sentence approach; it’s painless, minimal, and requires about one minute of each day. Every morning I sit down and write one opening sentence. I have no story to go with it. I don’t know where the sentence will take me, but I make it rich enough to lead somewhere.

Here are some sentences I’ve written, but haven’t put stories to yet. After each sentence is a short list of questions that could get the story moving.

“It’d been long known in the community that Maid to Order provided more than your basic housecleaning needs.”

  • What other needs could they provide? Dog-walking? Drugs? Prostitution? Private Investigation? Or do they donate a lot of time or money to charities and other community needs?
  • What if one of these “maids” fell in with someone whose interests were at cross-purposes to those extra-curricular services provided by Maid to Order?
  • What if an undercover officer got “inside” the Maid to Order circle and befriended an employee, thus jeopardizing his/her police work and leaving him/her with a big decision?
Let’s try another one.

“After regaining consciousness, my brother insisted he was a French ballet dancer and commenced pirouetting around the living room spouting, ‘Merci, Frommage!’”
  • How did the brother lose consciousness in the first place?
  • How does the brother know ballet and French? And why is his French so incoherent?
  • Does this sort of thing run in the family?
  • How old are these people?
  • Are they going to fix this problem before mom and dad get home?
  • Most importantly, will he ever get a, “You’re welcome” from the cheese?

How about something like this?

“It was the final flim-flam.”
  • What was the final flim-flam?
  • How does this flim-flam stack up against previous flim-flams?
  • Why is this one the final flim-flam? Is it because this was the granddaddy of all flim-flams or was it because after the last flim-flam there was to be a complete cessation of all flim-flammery?
  • What type of person uses the word “flim-flam” anyway?
You should be seeing the pattern here. You can use anything for an opening sentence as long as it peaks enough interest to get the reader to the next sentence, and more importantly, poses enough possibilities to get you, the writer, to the next sentence when you have more time to develop it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

MUCKO :: Fun with Captions

Over the last few posts, I've gotten into some pretty deep stuff in terms of where writing can take us on a personal level. I think it is worth mentioning, however, that writing can be a lot of fun, even if you are not a humor writer.

At another site I frequent, the forumites have this thing called "Mucko." Basically, it involves putting up a really unique picture, then everyone on the forum writes a caption or quote for it. I figured this might work here, among a bunch of writers.

So here is the picture:

Okay, writers. Let's have some fun. Mucko away!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Fearless Writing :: Part II

In my Fearless Writing post, I talked about the practical aspects of writing and why fear should have no place. And while I stand by everything I offered in that post, I realize that simply saying, "just do it," isn't always so simple, because fear is often impractical. It is a basic psychological, even intuitive, response. And while I'm not a psychiatrist, I've learned some things about fear, and its ability to undermine writing efforts. I'd like to share those things in this post.

Fear, at its very core, is primarily a reaction to the unknown. We've been conditioned to flee what we do not know because sticking with what we do know tend to be good for basic physical and emotional health...or is it?

The unknown, by its nature, may very well offer us insight or truths about ourselves, our world, and the relationship between the two. Along the way, it is entirely possible that the unknown might also show us things we don't like or that make us feel uncomfortable. It is only through knowing these things, I would posit, that we can progress both as writers and as human beings.

We write to explore. It's how we make sense of the world. Be it a sonnet, a novel, a piece of journalism, or even a blog about something difficult, but worth facing, we write to explore. And it is only when we explore, that can we discover. What if Christopher Columbus didn't face the fear of the world actually being flat? Like Columbus, writers are explorers. And it's not writers; all artists are explorers.

By embracing your fear, understanding what it is you are fearful of, accepting it, and moving forward, you can make at least one person's life better: yours. Who knows? You might just make a difference in others' lives, too.

Remember, every instance of fear is also an opportunity for courage. It is only when we face life's challenges (like fear) with courage that we truly learn how strong we really are. I firmly believe writing can be a vehicle for this sort of self-discovery, but only if we approach it fearlessly.

Related Posts
Fearless Writing
Fearless Writing Part III

Saturday, August 4, 2007

1 list, 7 items, 135 ideas for writers

So much of tapping creativity is indirectly related to writing. More often, the things that fuel our creativity are the techniques we use to figure out what we should write about in the first place. Lists are a great way to do this.

Lately, lists have been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere as a way to create great link bait for social media sites like Digg or StumbleUpon. For writers looking to get their own ideas flowing, however, lists can provide tremendous amount of fodder - if you are making the right lists.

I once found a story of a man who, while still in his 30s, had accomplished a tremendous number of feats. From scuba diving along the Great Barrier Reef to skydiving, to learning 5 different languages. His secret was that, at age 15, he made a list of the 100 things we wanted to do before he died. He held onto that list and made his life's goal to accomplish everything on it. Before he was 40, he had already accomplished 67 of those things. He said that this approach to life had given him some exciting moments, but had been most beneficial in helping him learn about what it is that truly brings him happiness.

I have used lists for years and found them to be a handy starting point for my writing. Along the way, I have learned a few things about myself. I've also created some pretty interesting journal entries from them, too.

So I offer this list of lists for you to start. When you can't think of what to write about, make one of these lists.

  • 100 things to do before you die
  • 5 people you meet in heaven
  • 3 most important moments of your life
  • 7 life lessons you have learned so far
  • 10 favorite CDs
  • 6 character traits you hope your children have
  • 4 things you'd do as president (premier, prime minister, etc.)
While each of these lists carry an implicit: "What" or "Who" reasoning, the big question that makes these lists valuable, however, "Why?" With each list, add and explanation of why each item appears on the list. When you do this, certain themes should start to surface. These themes are likely to reveal your ultimate motivations for writing in the first place. And, if you are lucky, you may even come across some very interesting juxtapositions, too.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Contest :: Why Do You Write?

During the last few days, Michael Stelzner has been trying to get to the heart of what prevents people from writing over at Copyblogger and, his own site, Writing White Papers.

Here at Tapping Creativity, on the other hand, I would like to know: Why Do You Write?

What is your motivation? What keeps you writing stories that very few people will ever read? What keeps you writing blog posts that get no comments? What moves you to spend precious time sitting in front of a computer while the world is happening outside your window? C'mon, let's hear it!

In one week (August 10th), I will sort through all the comment - please let there be comments - and select the 5 comments I like the most. Those 5 people will all get free copies of my eBook, Tapping Creativity.

Not a book deal, I know. Still, it's all I got.

So let's hear it: Why Do You Write?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lunchmeat, Tampons, and a Lawn Chair

Sometimes we can so much time coming up with ways to tap our own creativity that it's nice when some little bits of inspiration fall right into your lap. I'm talking about those items that we come across that are either (a) so out of place that we can't help but spin a yarn to explain them, or (b) a candid look into someone else's life.

Out of Place Items
Have you ever found one mitten lying in a crosswalk? How about a lone shoe on the side of the road? How do those things get there? Kidnappings? Alien Abductions? Perhaps an item fell out of a bag on its way to the local Good Will; if so, why aren't these items needed any more?

And you don't just have to rely on items you find. What if one of you story has a character who finds something unique, like an expensive watch, a brown paper bag containing drugs, or a human head? What happens then? Write it and find out.

A Sneak Peek at Others
The next time you are looking at a screen, trying your best to come up with some kind of interesting character or scene, do this: Go to your local grocery store or supermarket and find a receipt lying in the parking lot. You'd be amazed at the range of things that will all show up on the same receipt, such as lunchmeat, tampons, and a lawn chair. What does that combination tell you about the person who bought them? Well, write it and find out.

If you don't feel like straying too far from the computer, you can still have found things delivered right to from Found Magazine. This site has a wonderful collection of miscellaneous pictures, notes, signs, and other interesting nuggets.

Sometimes, you just get lucky and instead of tapping creativity, creativity taps you.